HOULTON, Maine — Michele LaPlante of Woodstock, New Brunswick, has always wanted to make a quilt and has come to the annual Friends and Needles Quilt Guild show in Houlton every August for the past five years to get ideas and supplies.
She followed the same routine this year, arriving at the show at the Houlton Elks Club on Saturday afternoon with a few friends to check out the approximately 200 quilts, miniquilts, table runners, handbags and more on display.
“I have some great ideas, and I got some neat fabric this year,” she said. “Now I am going to take my supplies home and sit them next to the supplies I’ve bought here for the last five years and hope the quilt magically appears.”
LaPlante, 38, was among hundreds of quilters, novice quilters and quilt appreciators who had checked out the show by Saturday afternoon. The three-day show, a part of the 51st annual Potato Feast Days celebration, opened Friday.
In more than 25 years of operation, the guild has seen tremendous growth in membership recently and contributes annually to the community through the quilt show, raffles, a scholarship awarded each year to a local senior, and its work with Project Linus, a volunteer nonprofit organization that provides quilts to seriously ill and traumatized children.
The popular annual show always attracts a large crowd and features a raffle quilt made by guild members which visitors have a chance to win. Since this year’s quilt was made with Aunt Grace Authentics fabrics, the guild named it “Aunt Grace’s Apron.”
Mary Mitchell of Caribou, who has been quilting for more than 40 years, is not a member of the guild, but often makes one or two large quilts a year to give as gifts, and creates dozens of table runners, pillows and other products.
“I never miss this show,” she said Saturday afternoon. “You walk in here and you can see how much talent these quilters have. It’s nice to come here and see the different patterns and techniques and to talk to other quilters and get ideas from them.”
Mitchell said she was going to take some snapshots of the quilts to e-mail to her daughter, a quilter who lives in Presque Isle.
“She usually comes with me, but she had to work today,” she said. “We always get inspired by what we see here. We work together every few years on a quilt, and it’s about time for us to make another one.”
Both LaPlante and Mitchell said they enjoy talking to the vendors who are a part of the show. Six vendors from throughout Maine set up shop in the Elks Club during the show, showcasing fabric, thread, machinery and more.
Before leaving the show, LaPlante purchased a new quilt kit and said she was determined to begin work on it as soon as she got home.
“My friends tease me, but I am going to make a quilt one of these days,” she said Saturday. “I just can’t tell you what day it will be.”